Distracted Driving and Driving Safety
Awareness and the Law
Distracted Driving Laws in the US States are gaining greater attention as the various media publicize growing numbers of deaths related to texting while driving. Texting is only one of a growing cadre of distractions that have always included activities like eating sloppy foods, arguing with passengers, combing hair, applying makeup, and using electric shavers plugged into the cigarette lighter. For instance, a Senior Citizen I know brags about how often she drives on Interstate Highways while reading a paperback romance novel propped on the steering wheel. Overly loud music can hamper not only one's own driving but also that of fellow drivers. My favorite to highlight is the child sitting in the back seat that asks to stop for french fries at a famous burger place and, being told "No", stands and covers the driver's eyes tightly with his hands. All sorts of distractions are emerging. The link below to the Federal site for prevention of Distracted Driving provides additional information.
Given 2010s automotive technology, dashboards offer iPod, iPad and SmartPhone docks, television, DVD players, and a myriad of other applications that might cause deadly distractions. At the same time, state laws targeting in-vehicle distractions are becoming more top-of-mind among law enforcement patrols.
New distractions come in the form of animated billboards that include television news reports and lower-screen ticker tapes at high-traffic intersections. My city has a few and they can be extremely distracting.
Some communities have toyed with the idea of placing stationary ads right on the highway pavement as well. These are similar to the large product decals pasted to supermarket floors - I have disorientation each time I walk over one of those. Driving over larger ones on the asphalt would create a stable of problems: reading the ad instead of paying attention to driving, slowing down to read and creating rear-end accidents, stopping and backing up when missing an interesting ad, feeling disoriented altogether, becoming unable to see lane dividing lines, and probably several others.
Local law enforcement agencies and city governments may need to consider distractions outside the vehicle over which drivers have no control, as well to target in-vehicle distractions. The television bill boards are probably the worst safety problem at this time.
Look for your US State at the link below to examine your Distracted Driving Law, and celebrate Teen Driving Awareness Week during October 17 - 23, 2011.
Phone In One Hand, Ticket In The Other
- Distracted Driving | National Highway Traffic Safety Administration | Distraction.gov
Distracted driving is unsafe, irresponsible and in a split second, its consequences can be devastating. Click here to learn the facts about distracted driving.
To a Driver
Don't stick your elbow out so far or it might go home in another car!
-- Burma Shave
Proper distance to him was bunk; they pulled him out of some guy's trunk.
Our American driving culture formerly was one in which people inside moving automobiles minded their own business and drivers attended to the road - at least in my Midwest. Maybe it's the decline of the Burma Shave signs that warned drivers from time to time, but that culture died in the late 1970s.
Increasing numbers of drivers and passengers look, beckon and shout into others' vehicles these days. Some of these events are attempts to car jack people, others are the result of nosiness, others are an exhibition of road rage, and others are people trying to connect with a potential new dating partner in another vehicle. Some people, children included, face backwards in the rear windows of vehicles and attempt to distract drivers behind them. Still other drivers honk repeatedly in heavy traffic when they see someone they know in another car -- This can be deadly and has been the cause several accidents in my town. All this is dangerous, but add tailgating to the mix and we have an even higher probability of traffic accidents.
Other drivers have made themselves a self appointed vigilante posse against texting. These folks continually crane their necks while looking for cell phones in other vehicles; and, if they see one, begin honking and shouting. The vigilantes can cause as many accidents and deaths as those that are texting while driving. The vigilantes are not helping. While driving, the best safety technique may be to turn off cell phones completely (powered off) and committedly put them away until reaching a rest stop or the final destination.
Be aware of in-vehicle and extravehicular distractions and avoid them. If you have teenaged drivers at home, talk to them about all the possible distractions.
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